As ONE Championship put its final touches on 2017, five of the world’s best martial artists closed out the year with some unforgettable submission finishes.
Many of these unforgettable submission finishes were absolutely crucial, as they led to world title shots, helped champions retain their coveted title belts, or helped athletes make a statement their weight class.
Here are five of the vest best submissions from the fourth and final quarter of 2017.
Alex Silva Tornadoes Into An Armbar
Before he defeated claimed the ONE Strawweight World Championship from Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito with a masterful striking performance last Saturday in Bangkok, Brazil’s Alex “Little Rock” Silva displayed his elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills on another elite Japanese martial artist.
This past November, at ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD in Manila, Silva met an unbeaten Hayato Suzuki, a highly-regarded wrestler and Grachan champion. Fans expected a technical ground war with two talented grapplers each wanting to showcase their best techniques, but what they got instead was a complete shocker.
From out of nowhere, Silva out-scrambled Suzuki following a takedown attempt, and latched onto an armbar that forced a quick tap from Suzuki. Of course, it was certainly no surprise for those who closely followed Silva’s career. After all, “Little Rock” is a former BJJ world champion who holds a third-degree black belt.
The result marked Suzuki’s first loss in 20 bouts as a professional, and conversely catapulted Silva’s stock to an eventual world title shot weeks later. At ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, the Brazilian defeated Naito via unanimous decision to claim the ONE Strawweight World Championship. That was Naito’s first professional loss, too.
“Lightning” Strikes Anatpong Bunrad
Filipino-Australian Reece “Lightning” McLaren burst onto the Asian martial arts scene with a handful of captivating performances, finishing the highly-regarded Mark Striegl and decisioning top Tajikistan talent Muin Gafurov. The 26-year-old simply came out of nowhere, dazzling with a fan-friendly striking style, elite grappling skills, and an unmistakable swagger.
McLaren’s performances earned him a shot at Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes’ ONE Bantamweight World Championship in December 2016, but he wound up on the wrong side of a split decision. Then, following a heartbreaking knockout loss to Kevin Belingon this past August, he decided to try his hand at flyweight.
He looked phenomenal. At ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt once again spun a web of grappling mastery, this time around Anatpong “Mak Mak” Bunrad, forcing the Thai to tap to a brabo choke just three minutes into the very first round.
Having made quick work of a credible name in the division, the victory signified McLaren’s emergence as a serious threat to the ONE Flyweight World Championship, currently held by Brazil’s Adriano Moraes.
Miao Jie Claims Amira Hafizovoc’s Arm
After making a name for herself in China, grappling specialist “Supermom” Miao Jie jumped at the chance to introduce herself to the world with ONE Championship.
“Supermom” is a veteran of several grappling competitions, and has really made it a point to provide fans with highlight reel submissions on a consistent basis. At ONE: HERO’S DREAM last November in Yangon, Miao dazzled audiences with another stunning performance. “Supermom” needed just 45 seconds to force a tap from Aussie debutant Amira Hafizovoc, who succumbed to an armbar.
It was a spectacular performance, one that fans of the Chinese star have steadily grown accustomed to. Miao made her promotional debut on home ground at ONE CHAMPIONSHIP: SHANGHAI last September, where she earned another lightning-quick submission victory, a 49-second annihilation of Mona Samir.
Miao has emerged as one of the most dangerous grapplers in the promotion’s strawweight division, and already owns the two fastest submissions in ONE women’s history.
Adriano Moraes Maintains Stranglehold Of Flyweight Crown
The road to greatness certainly has not been easy for Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes. His path has been laden with intense match-ups. Losing the ONE Flyweight World Title in 2015 and having to wait two long years before getting the chance to take it back was excruciating for the 28-year-old, who considered one of the best martial artists in the whole world.
Having just recaptured the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Championship at ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS last August in Macao, Moraes was not letting it go ever again, certainly not while he can help it. At ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD, Moraes took on the surging Danny Kingad, one of the fastest rising stars in Philippine martial arts. In front of the Team Lakay standout’s hometown crowd, Moraes looked to teach the young Filipino a lesson.
“Mikinho” showed incredible poise, remaining cool and collected as soon as the opening bell rang, while the younger and less experienced Kingad appeared skittish in his first world title shot. In a masterful performance, Moraes nullified Kingad’s wushu-based offense, took matters to the ground where he knew he had an advantage, and finished him off with a rear-naked choke.
Winning the flyweight world title once more and defending it successfully within months is an admirable achievement. 2017 has certainly been a great year for Moraes.
Riku Shibuya Shocks Former World Champion Dejdamrong
From his quirky cage antics to his enigmatic staredowns, Japan’s Riku “The Outsider” Shibuya is not your average martial artist. The 32-year-old veteran is puzzling with his unorthodox technique and unique approach to martial arts, which leaves his opponents unable to read his offense.
After challenging Moraes for the flyweight world title in his promotional debut in March 2015, fans were introduced to a charismatic and exciting new talent inside the ONE cage. Though Shibuya failed to score the upset, he won the fans’ respect with his noble effort.
Following his recent loss to Malaysia’s Gianni Subba, Shibuya dropped down a weight class to join the strawweight division, where he seeks another title opportunity. The Japanese competitor knew he had to stop a big name to make a statement. At ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD last Saturday, he found just the opponent he was looking for in former ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke.
A highly-skilled and experienced grappler, Shibuya astonished with his cage control and intelligent strategy. “The Outsider” negated Amnuaysirichoke’s legendary Muay Thai, closed the distance, pulled guard, and finished the Thai hero in front of his hometown crowd with a beautiful guillotine choke.
If Shibuya wanted to send a message to the rest of the division, he has certainly done so with his performance. With newly-crowned champion Alex Silva sitting on the strawweight throne, we may have another exciting matchup to look forward to in the near future.